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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Cardale Babington   22 February [1858]1

Down Bromley Kent

Feb. 22d

Dear Babington

You have sometimes kindly given me information, & now I want to beg the favour of your answering me a theoretical question or rather a Botanico-Metaphysical question.

Hooker has made a remark to me, which I cannot credit, & I told I would ask one or two other Botanists & not give any guide on our opinions & that he agreed would be fair.2

“Do you think that good Botanists in drawing up a local Flora, whether small or large, or in making a general Prodromus, would almost universally, but unconsciously & unintentionally, tend to record (marking with greek letters in usual way) varieties in the large or in the small genera? Or would the tendency be to record the varieties nearly equally in genera of all sizes? Are you yourself conscious on reflexion, that you have attended to, & more carefully recorded the varieties in large or small or very small genera?”

You will observe the question does not in the least concern whether big or small genera are more or less variable, but whether there is a stronger tendency to record them more in one case than the other.

I shd. be infinitely obliged if you would be so kind as to consider this case & let me hear your answer, & believe me | Dear Babington | Yours sincerely | C. Darwin


Dated by the relationship to the letter from C. C. Babington, 3 March 1858.
See preceding letter.


CD and J. D. Hooker have differed on the following question and agreed to ask several botanists: would a good botanist describing a local flora record varieties as readily in large as in small genera?

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Cardale Babington
Sent from
Source of text
Cambridge University Library (MS Add.8182: 20)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2220,” accessed on 28 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7